The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

9 Materials
5 Minutes

In this tutorial, I am bringing you the ultimate guide to the apple cider vinegar hair rinse.

Apple cider vinegar is known for having many health benefits and has been used as a natural remedy for various health problems for thousands of years.

Here, I'll show you how to use apple cider vinegar for hair in the best way and I'll explain why it works.

Tools and materials:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Jug


  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Essential oils
  • Bottled water
  • Water filter
  • Hair clip
  • Silk cap
Apple cider vinegar with mother

Apple cider vinegar with mother

The murky brown sediment at the bottom is known as ‘the mother’. This contains natural protein, enzymes, healthy bacteria, and acetic acid. Make sure to shake your bottle up before use.

If your ACV is clear, it means it’s been filtered, and you may not have as many nutrients, so look for raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized ACV.

Apple cider vinegar benefits for hair

Apple cider vinegar benefits for hair

Due to the low pH level of around 3 in apple cider vinegar, it can be used to help close the hair cuticle by lowering the pH in our hair. Healthy hair is slightly more acidic, with a pH of around 4.5-5.5.

High alkaline hair products and hard water types are higher on the pH scale, which causes the hair cuticle to open. This is what causes hair to become brittle and dry, which in turn causes split ends, breakage, and the dreaded frizz.

So by closing the hair cuticle, ACV is known to help retain moisture, decrease frizz, add shine, increase softness, help remove product and dirt build-up.

It unclogs the hair follicles, which may help with express shedding, stimulates the scalp, helps with dandruff, soothes an itchy scalp, and can help treat scalp infections. 

As ACV is highly acidic, it’s important not to overuse it, and it must be diluted with water to bring the pH up to around 4 for hair rinses.

Ratio of water to apple cider vinegar

Ratio of water to apple cider vinegar

You may have to play around a little bit to find out what works best for your hair type. Dry hair likes less ACV, and greasy hair likes more ACV.

I played around with different measurements, and in the end, I went with five tablespoons (around 1oz) of ACV for one cup of water (around 8oz), so it’s about a 1 to 8 ratio. 

If your hair is color-treated, you may want to find an alternative rinse or just use a lot less ACV.

Washing hair with apple cider vinegar

Washing hair with apple cider vinegar

After shampooing and conditioning, I poured the rinse over my scalp, making sure to saturate all of my hair.

You can use it warm, but I decided to use a cold rinse because this is said to help close the cuticle and add shine.

Should you do the apple cider vinegar hair rinse before or after conditioner?

Generally, most directions instruct using it at the end of your routine, but some say you can use the rinse in place of your shampoo or conditioner because it has both clarifying and conditioning effects.

As my hair is really troubled, I didn’t want to skip either step, so I just used it at the very end.

Doing an apple cider vinegar hair rinse

To rinse out or not to rinse out?

Almost every recipe and article I came across instructed me to rinse out the vinegar, and it seems like the only legitimate reason for this is the smell.

Only a few articles suggested leaving it in, but to be honest with you, I think that it is the better way to do this rinse.

Because water has a higher pH, it just seems that I’d be defeating the purpose of the ACV by rinsing it out. Yes, it does smell quite strong even with the small amount that I used, but it’s not noticeable at all when it dries.

Is apple cider vinegar good for your hair?

After soaking my hair, I squeezed it all out, showered off any vinegar from my body, and gently combed out my hair. I did absolutely nothing else to it, letting my hair air dry with the vinegar in it.

Hair after apple cider vinegar hair rinse

Is apple cider vinegar good for your hair?

When it had dried, my hair was still frizzy, still pretty much what it looks like when it air dries normally, but it was a little bit softer and less tangled. However, it wasn’t the effect that I was hoping for.

Using bottled water on hair

Using bottled water on hair

For my second attempt, I used exactly the same measurements, but I used bottled water instead.

I didn’t realize this when I bought it, but the water that I used has a pH of 7.9, which is higher than I would have liked.

I have no idea what the pH of my shower water is, but I know that it’s hard water which means that it’s anywhere from 8.5 upwards.

Using essential oils in the apple cider vineg

How to mask the smell of apple cider vinegar

Some recipes recommend adding essential oils like lavender, rosemary, or peppermint. I went for lavender, poured in a few drops, and found that this massively masked the vinegar smell.

How to use apple cider vinegar for hair

Again though, it was still pretty much the same outcome as before after air drying it - pretty frizzy. With this attempt though, I did notice that my hair looked shinier, and there didn’t seem to be any oil residue from the lavender oil.

It also smelled really nice, so I recommend using essential oils for this rinse.

Using a water filter to wash hair

Using a water filter

My third attempt is where I noticed the biggest difference, and this was from simply changing two contributing factors.

This time I used a water filter and I also rinsed my hair with filtered water before the apple cider vinegar rinse to make sure I had gotten rid of any hard water left in my hair. 

Apple cider vinegar hair rinse aftercare

Apple cider vinegar hair rinse aftercare

The second factor I changed was the aftercare. This time, I put my hair up in a protective style afterward.

After a few hours, I took my hair out, and while I usually put my hair up like this, it never comes out as shiny and sleek. 

Wearing a silk cap to protect hair

When I went to bed, I wore a silk cap, and my hair came out very smooth the next day. 

Apple cider vinegar hair rinse tutorial

My hair felt sleek and glossy, and the individual strands actually felt stronger. It was soft and not tangly at all; it was like a whole new head of hair.

So it definitely seemed like the aftercare played a huge factor in the outcome, and yes, I do use these aftercare methods regularly, and I don’t notice results quite as nice as this, so I know that the ACV played a huge part in its glossiness.

It may very well have been that the filtered water made a big difference as well. Also, maybe just the fact that it was my third ACV rinse that week.

Apple cider vinegar hair rinse tutorial

Hopefully, this tutorial has armed you with a few more helpful facts and a better idea of how you can approach using apple cider vinegar for your hair rinse.

Suggested materials:
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Jug
  • Shampoo
See all materials

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Join the conversation
2 of 25 comments
  • Fai104514832 Fai104514832 on May 14, 2024

    I tried ACV once. It got in my eye, and it was awful.

    As far as the effect on the cuticle, I thought it was desirable to have the cuticle open, so that a conditioning agent can penetrate the shaft.

  • Cd48x Cd48x on Jun 16, 2024

    Growing up I used ACV.

    No conditioners. Have healthy hair. I'm 73 now. I use ACV Vinegar rinse; no mother in it.

    Then rinsed it off. Never saw ACV w mother in it, until recently in stores. When it dries, no smell. Closes the cuticles so hair will be shiney. My mom raised 5 kids on ACV. We all have straight hair. Great stuff... (⁠◕⁠ᴗ⁠◕⁠✿⁠)